Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Social media listening – it’s time to commit to it

What is social listening (and why commit to it)?
In a nutshell it is paying attention to what is being said on social media, but obviously it’s more than that. 

It starts with social monitoring – or collecting every social mention and action relevant to your organization, brand, purpose etc.

Social listening is important in social mediaAfter monitoring comes social listening – this requires analysis and reflection on what has been gathered. It also means watching for patterns, tracking sentiment and drawing conclusions based on where and when conversations happen.

So why should you commit to social listening? Among the things it can do:
• Improve customer care
• Learn about opportunities – business and otherwise
• Get feedback on products and services
• Identify your influencers and advocates
• Discover where your community hangs out

How to do it:
Monitoring – what people are actually doing, not just what they say they are doing, on social platforms and the web in general
Listening – separating signal from noise; determining importance and relevance
Interpreting – what does it mean to us now? In the future? Do we see a problem we can solve for a customer?
Taking action – turning data into insights; acting on those insights

Manual steps (free):
If paying for monitoring tools that simplify social listening is not in your budget there are free things you can do:
Plan to listen: Set aside time (daily is best) to search on keywords and/or hashtags that relate to your business, its name, its products and services and the industry you’re in.
Plan to respond: Have a document that spells out how you will respond on social to both the good and the bad comments etc. about your organization. This should include how you can redirect people to helpful online resources or be helpful in other ways. Also, have conversation starters ready to use with influencers and others who are interested in your industry.
Plan to follow up: When you have jumped into a conversation be sure to follow it to a natural conclusion … and be timely (in other words don’t allow more than a day to elapse between responses – much less time if you’re dealing with any kind of crisis communication).
Plan to document: Keep track of who you have interacted with and when. Complete a monthly summary of this activity and its benefits to your organization so you can send it to your boss so a higher-up will understand the value of spending time on this.

Paid tools:
There are a lot (see "Resources" below). Here’s what’s important in whatever tools you use:
Learning curve: How hard is it to get up and running on the app/software?
Data collection: What kinds of data can be collected and how customizable is this?
Reporting: How is the data reported and can it be manipulated by the end-user for inclusion in reports?
Historical reporting: In addition to the regular reports how does it aggregate data and report it over extended timeframes?
Planning: Does it allow any kind of “what if” scenarios that show how changing one action might affect results?

So, there you have it, social listening is clearly important for anyone on social media. The question is to what extent your organization should commit to it…. I’ll address that in a future post.

Do you have thoughts on things I may have missed? I’d welcome your feedback.

6 Social Media Monitoring Tools to Track Your Brand
Top 8 Social Listening Tools That Do Way More Than Listen
A Wiki of Social Media Monitoring Solutions